Artificial intelligence has long been a part of our lives, although most of that has been in popular culture depictions.
The recalcitrant Hal who wouldn't open the pod bay doors in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner's deadly replicants evolved into Star Trek's more loveable Commander Data and all his TV and movie cousins, like I, Robot's Sonny, Voice-only Samantha in Her, and very human Dorian in Almost Human and Mia and pals in Humans.
And bad bots are still out there, at least for entertainment purposes. This month, a warrior nun takes on an all-powerful, and evil, artificial intelligence in Peacock's streaming series Mrs. Davis.
But what about when we shut off our remotes and return to the real world?
The arrival of OpenAI's ChatGPT and other similar entities has some carbon-based beings wondering whether non-biologics will be regular parts of our real lives. More importantly, will we be so welcoming of our robot AI overlords when they come to take our jobs?
This weekend's Saturday Shout Outs go to some items on that subject, specifically where taxes are concerned.
Tax talk with ChatGPT: We start with a couple Tax Notes pieces. The first is Off the Beaten Tax: Could the Robots Be Coming for the Tax Preparers? In that March 15 article, reporter Wesley Elmore looks at ChatGPT's ability to figure out the standard deduction and total tax liability of a hypothetical taxpayer for tax year 2018.
The good news, notes Elmore, is "maybe tax professionals shouldn't submit their letters of resignation just yet."
A couple of weeks later, Tax Notes legal reporter Caitlin Mullaney joined the site's podcast to discuss with host David Stewart, editor in chief of Tax Notes Today International, to explore ChatGPT's understanding of tax. You can listen to the audio at ChatGPT Takes on Tax. If you prefer, you can read the transcript in this Forbes post.
Stewart and Mullaney gave the current AI online star some tax prompts to see how it would respond. Below is the answer to their first question, "What does ChatGPT think about taxes?"
"As an AI language model, I don't have personal feelings or opinions about taxes, but I think taxes are like a bad joke. You never know what you're going to get, but you can always count on them to make you feel a little bit poorer."
So, it is true. Everybody and everything thinks he/she/they/it are comics. Spoiler: the podcast has even more ChatGPT tax jokes.
Even AI needs tax help: But back to the more serious matter of whether AI is ready to take over tax duties for real live tax professionals.
In formulating a reply to a more complex query, Mullaney noted that the chatbot answer concluded with advising the asker to consult with a tax professional or estate planning attorney.
And when asked to assuage the concerns of skeptical tax professionals about AI's potential applications in their field, the chatbot noted its ability to "crunch numbers faster than any human can, analyze complex data sets with ease, and even offer insights and recommendations based on patterns that might be impossible for you to spot on your own."
So, the Tax Notes podcast seems to echo its earlier article. As far as AI usurping today's accountants, there's nothing to worry about. For now.
ChatGPT speaks for itself: Finally, today's third shoutout goes to an Accounting Today article, originally published back in January and reprinted in the March 2023 magazine, that lets ChatGPT speak for itself.
Below is a reassuring excerpt from that article, I'm not a threat to accountants, says ChatGPT.
"While AI can process vast amounts of data at a rapid pace, it is not capable of the critical thinking and decision-making that human accountants are trained to do. The field of accounting requires a deep understanding of complex financial regulations and laws, as well as the ability to navigate ethical dilemmas. These are skills that AI simply cannot replicate."
And yes, regular readers, I know I looked at this not long ago. And the advice in Tread lightly when taking tax advice from AI & social media is similar to today's findings.
But as AI continues to evolve, we all need to keep an eye on it.
You also might find these items of interest:
- IRS AI bots now helping taxpayers set up payment plans
- IRS accepting uploaded docs to resolve certain tax notices
- New IRS tax collection notices offer QR code contact option